A gentleman sits across the conference room table from me talking confidently about his past career, his family, even his politics. Not a hint of shyness; confidence exuding, almost blinding really.
Then I ask about money.
Crickets. Avoidance. Dare I say, insecurity?
“So, tell me about your history as an investor.”
“Well, I’ve been investing for a while. Definitely have made some money – mostly doing it myself. I just want to know if you can help me get better returns.”
“Ok. We’ll do a risk assessment to help determine what to recommend. First, let’s figure out what kind of lifestyle your portfolio needs to support. How much are you accustomed to earning and spending?”
“Well, I haven’t really talked to my wife about how much we spend on a regular basis. I’ll have to figure that out.”
“No problem! Do you know what your current portfolio balance is?”
“Yeah, so maybe you can tell me more about your investment portfolios? How are your strategies better than the market?”
I have conversations like this on a regular basis. Sadly, many people avoid talking about the actual important parts of finance because they:
- Are ashamed of their past financial mistakes.
- Don’t understand or have a grasp on their own financial situation.
- Feel like talking about their wealth is taboo.
If we were open and honest about our finances with our trusted friends and professionals, we wouldn’t feel so crummy when we slip up. We’d realize that everyone has made financial mistakes. By talking through our mistakes, others can learn. You might find that a friend has also recently gone through the same situation, and they might have some advice to share. Don’t let shame keep you quiet, especially with your financial advisor. Trust me when I say that we’ve seen it all. You wouldn’t avoid going to your doctor because you were ashamed of the wart on your foot, would you? We are here to help, not to judge.
We are confident in areas we are knowledgeable. Take some time to figure out your own finances. Review your statements. Track your spending history. Communicate with your spouse. The more you understand where your money is going, the more equipped you will be to make important decisions. Download my checklist for ideas of what areas you should be checking.
It seems like some random dude in history must have made a rule that we aren’t supposed to talk about our money. You can’t let people know you have money! Gasp! You also can’t let people know you have debt! Ah! And your salary? Don’t you dare reveal that!
Honestly, I’m not sure where these arbitrary, self-inflicted privacy rules came from. Why shouldn’t we share this information with those we trust? Don’t you think it could empower people, lead to useful conversation, and foster support? Money doesn’t define anyone. If someone judges you because of your finances, something is wrong with them, not you. Get real with yourself and others and TALK MONEY.
The presence or absence of money is one of the biggest contributors to our comfort, contentment, and ability to handle life’s hardships.
The fact that we don’t really talk about it with our friends and family is outrageous and needs to change. So, go invite a girlfriend out to lunch and ask, “So, what has your experience been like with investing?” See where the conversation goes from there…